Surprisingly, there’s a lot of confusion about PR. It’s not uncommon for seasoned businesspeople to ask me to help them understand it. So what is PR? Technically, PR is an abbreviation for Public Relations. And technically PR firms act as a mediator between a company and its many publics. A company’s “publics” are groups broadly categorized as investors, employees, government, community, the media and any other group of people a business might have to interact with.
Clients have one goal in mind when they use our services: increase sales. We are good at what we do and we’ve seen clients experience great success. We also take our own medicine; we use our own techniques to promote our agency.
A lesson: The exposure products get on Shark Tank should be a marketing lesson for all businesses: There’s money to be made by appearing in the media.
An example: Trump. Super PACs spend hundreds of millions on ads while Trump goes around appearing as a guest and spending almost nothing.
Content marketing is all the rage because it teaches consumers about products when they’re searching for information. But there’s one kind of content marketing that remains a little-known secret. This channel reaches a massive audience, and is interesting, relevant and engaging. What is this underused approach to content marketing? Media coverage.
To understand what we do, you have to understand what we don’t do. I’ll tell you the difference between us and the competition, and I’ll tell you how to get media coverage at a reasonable price.
Almost 30 years ago when we started selling PR by the story, things looked bleak. Most companies paid their PR firms hourly and had never heard of anyone selling media coverage by the placement. When the PR industry got wind of our pricing structure they went ballistic. The president of a public relations group made it his business to lambaste my company in both industry publications and the mainstream press. A newspaper headline on the front page of the business section read: “… with colleagues like this, who need enemies.” The article quoted a local PR professional as saying she “flew into a rage” when she found out we were selling news coverage by the story. I thought at the time, flew into a rage over what? Then a respected PR trade journal interviewed a competitor who said we “sit four to a desk.” Their bizarre anger toward us was laughable. I thought, what’s the big deal? We sell media coverage by the story rather than hourly.
When you see news stories about a consumer product, it’s easy to think that a reporter just happened to learn about the product and decide it deserved media coverage. That’s not necessarily the case. Quite likely, someone had a hand in telling the reporter about the product. Often times, that someone is us. Over the last three decades, our staff has arranged tens of thousands of product stories. The secret to our success is that we charge per story rather than by the hour. Many marketers ask, “How can I get publicity for my product?” The answer is: call us.
Many companies don’t use PR to tell their story. That’s because many PR firms charge big hourly fees with no guarantee of coverage. I don’t blame anyone for skipping that gamble. We’ve made it cost-effective and smart to take advantage of the best way to promote your product: media coverage.
No promotional tool is more underused than product news coverage. I know because my company, Media Relations, Inc., has been arranging product news stories for almost 30 years. One of our most important tasks is helping companies understand that they can ‒ and should ‒ tap into the power of media coverage to promote their products.
No matter how bizarre something is, once people become accustomed to it, they think it is normal. That’s how I view many aspects of the PR industry. It’s hard to imagine an industry more off course. There’s a better way to get publicity for your product.